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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Red Darling Pea Wildflowers at Pilton

This beautiful native Red Darling Pea (Swainsona queenslandica) was in bloom, whilst everything else was pretty much brown and dead during the drought at Pilton on the Darling downs, during our recent visit to a private property. The vibrant red flowers were just beautiful emerging from the black soil.

Darling Pea Flowers (Swainsona queenslandica) growing on the edge of a small dam at Pilton, Qld.

Darling Pea Flowers (Swainsona queenslandica)

I loved these large Yellow "Flat Billy-Buttons" (Leiocarpa brevicompta) that were in flower in the vicinity of the newly dry creek beds of Kings Creek at Pilton. These flowers are huge compared to the similar small  "Yellow Buttons" (Chrysocephalum apiculatum) that we get at home.
Native Flat Billy-buttons (Leiocarpa brevicompta) in flower at Pilton Oct 14

Native Flat Billy-buttons (Leiocarpa brevicompta)

Native Flat Billy-buttons (Leiocarpa brevicompta)

Flowering Lomandra's are one of my favourite sights in spring.  I was pleased to see that despite the drought and there were a few "Many-flowered Matrush" Lomandras (Lomandra multiflora) in flower at Pilton.

Many-flowered Matrush Lomandras (Lomandra multiflora) at Pilton

Pilton Valley - October 2014.
INFORMATION SOURCES: Darling Pea (Swainsona queenslandica) identified with the informative article by Trish Gardner on these local native species. http://toowoombaplants2008.blogspot.com.au/2008/09/pretty-pink-darling-peas.html 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Birds of the Logan River Rathdowney Sept 2014

Junction of the Logan River & Burnett Creek, Rathdowney, Qld, Sept 2014

During the September holidays we spent three nights camping at Rathdowney, South-East Queensland, on a private property bordered by the Logan River and Burnett Creek.  We had a really enjoyable time and loved compiling a bird and wildlife list during our stay.  The children had a great time swimming in the cool water of the river and along with plenty of walking, eating and playing, it was a relaxing few days.

The highlight of our stay, would have to be that Brendon was very fortunate to have his first sighting of the ever elusive platypus in the Logan River.  He was very blessed to see it on two consecutive days while out in the kayak, late in the afternoon, the second afternoon it appeared right next to his kayak and took a good look at him!  I however, despite getting up very early each morning and many hours spent sitting on the river bank didn't get to experience this much sought-after sighting this time around.  It was really wonderful to know that these special creatures are surviving and that they are safe from harm on a property such as the one we stayed at and we felt blessed to be able to share the area with them for a short time.

The area we stayed is very beautiful, but I must admit I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of environmental weeds on the river banks, mainly cats claw creeper which was taking over an extensive area and was out of control.  The native lomandras and bottle brush trees were beautiful and made for very picturesque waterways.We both took many photos during our stay and have included some of the better ones.

We took a couple of drives to explore a few local areas including Maroon Dam (see other post) and also explored the banks of the Burnett Creek near the roadsides (see pics at end of this post).  It was great to get away, however three nights is never enough when you want to really unwind.  We would definitely recommend the Rathdowney area for anyone looking for a relaxing time in the bush with easy access to the local rivers and creeks, and of course the chance of seeing a platypus in the wild.

J & B

The beautiful Logan River at Rathdowney - Sept 2014

Mt Maroon, Rathdowney, Queensland September 2014
Silvereye feeding on the Bottlebrush Flowers at Rathdowney, Sept 14


The surprisingly well camouflaged Scarlett Honeyeater in a flowering Bottle brush Tree at Rathdowney

Azure Kingfisher watches over the Logan River at Rathdowney 
White-cheeked Honeyeater, Rathdowney Sept 14

White-cheeked Honeyeater, Rathdowney Sept 14

Red-backed Fairy Wren, Rathdowney Sept 14
We saw this Laughing Kookaburra each day near our campsite,easily recognizable without it's tail feathers!  It managed however to fly to low branches and source worms within the grass below.  We wondered how it had the misfortune of losing all of the tail feathers!
Little Friarbird at Rathdowney, Sept 14

Grey Shrike-Thrush, Rathdowney, Qld Sept 14
Male Australian King Parrot feeding on the fruit of a Wild Tobacco Tree (Environmental Weed) at Rathdowney Sept 14

BIRDS & WILDLIFE LIST FROM OUR STAY AT RATHDOWNEY:

Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)
Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora)
Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)
White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica)
White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
Brown Cuckoo-Dove (Australian) (Macropygia phasianella)
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida)
Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)
Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azureus)
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
Australian King-Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)
Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus)
Little Lorikeet (Glossopsitta pusilla)
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus)
Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)
Red-backed Fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus)
Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii)
Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala)
Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta)
Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta)
White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris niger)
Blue-faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis)
Little Friarbird (Philemon citreogularis)
Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus)
White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis)
White-throated Gerygone (Gerygone olivacea)
Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus)
Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)
Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica)
Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)
Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)
Torresian Crow (Corvus orru)
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)


OTHER SPECIES SEEN AT RATHDOWNEY:

Platypus
Common Brushtail Possum
Red-necked Wallaby
Evidence of Bandicoots daily
Microbats

Stoney Creek Frog - Male's with bright yellow breeding colour
Eastern Sedgefrog
Common Green Tree Frog

Carpet Python
Eastern Water Dragon
Short-necked Turtle
Eel

Eel Tailed Cat Fish
Bass
European Carp (Pest)

Fireflys
Lesser Wanderer Butterfly
Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly


Common Brushtail Possums were a welcome sight at night, many with little babies on back.  They were very quite and used to campers and we loved observing them.  These possums were a lot more ginger brown in colour than the ones we have at home.

Red-necked Wallaby at Rathdowney, Sept 14

Logan River at Rathdowney - a great swimming hole for the kids.


Our Camping Spot at Rathdowney for a few days in the September Holidays 2014.


Beautiful flowering grasses on the edges of the Logan River, Rathdowney, Sept 14

Short-necked Turtle in the Logan River, Rathdowney, Sept 2014


Eastern Water Dragon, Rathdowney, Sept 14

Can you see me?  Brendon did well to spot this Carpet Python in the reeds on the edge of the Burnett Creek while kayaking at Rathdowney, Sept 14.

Carpet Python in the weeds on the edge of Burnett Creek, Rathdowney, September 14

Lesser Wander Butterfly, Rathdowney, Sept 14
Eastern Sedgefrog at Rathdowney, found on the edge of the Logan River, September 14.

Male Stoney Creek Frog with bright yellow breeding colours on the Logan River, Rathdowney, Sept 14.
The largest Common Green Tree Frog we have ever seen, poised on the top of the ledge of the amenities building at Rathdowney.  It was so big I was sure it had to be a Magnificent Tree Frog, except for the fact that they don't live in South-East Queensland. 

Huge Common Green Tree Frog, Rathdowney, Qld, September 2014

Noisy Friarbird at Rathdowney, Sept 14.
The Azure Kingfishers were stunning - one could never tire of watching them dive in and out of the water and flying swiftly along the river.  

Logan River - ideal platypus habitat at Rathdowney.


BURNETT CREEK

Burnett Creek, Rathdowney, September 2014

Only seconds after I said "watch out for snakes" Brendon saw this Carpet Python well hidden in the grasses on the edge of the Burnett Creek, Rathdowney.

Carpet Python at Burnett Creek, Rathdowney

Superb Blue Wren, Burnett Creek, Rathdowney

We stopped under this beautiful tree on the edge of Burnett Creek at Rathdowney.

Boonah Bicentennial Park - Not as nice as it once was


Boonah Bicentennial Park 2nd October 2014 - showing extensive "vegetation removal"
Grey-Headed Flying Foxes at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

On our way home from our camping trip, we stopped at the beautiful little town of Boonah to buy some lunch. We then drove to the Boonah Bicentennial Park to sit down and enjoy our lunch in the lovely little area that is home to a few small lakes, picnic grounds, and the Boonah Walking Trail Hill.  On arrival I was instantly shocked at how different the landscape of the hill behind the park, was since my last visit some years ago. I remembered this beautiful little spot for it's lovely trees and general environmental look, but on this visit we were shocked to see almost all of the beautiful native gums and native trees that were growing on the Boonah lookout hill all cut down and left on the ground. At first, I couldn't fathom why this beautiful area had suffered such destruction from man, and we debated if they were changing the look and doing re-planting, or if the trees has become too large and had covered the Boonah sign, but discussed how surely they would have just been lopped, not removed if that was the case.  There wasn't any evidence of any foliage re-planting, just a mass amount of weeds that had over taken the area since the trees were cut-down.  Quite honestly the area looked  very unpleasant and unwelcoming entrance to the town compared to how it once was.  It wasn't until some time walking around the little lakes at the base of the hill that our son spotted a few Grey-Headed Flying Foxes in some small shrubs (looked like flowering peach/weeds) near the top of the hill, instantly we realized that this lovely area had suffered the same fate as areas all over the country with "vegetation management" aka "tree clearing" to remove flying foxes.  What a shame.

Grey-Headed Flying Foxes at Boonah Bicentennial Park 2014

On returning home I did some further research to confirm our suspicions and we were right, the trees were removed to disband the flying foxes to ensure that local human residents were comfortable. On reading up on this topic it, like in many other areas, the decision to remove the trees in Boonah was quite controversial, and looks like it wasn't completely successful with a few Grey-Headed Flying foxes left trying to survive in what habitat is left.  See News Article from the Queensland Times here: http://www.qt.com.au/news/bat-colony-moved-on-from-park/2250830/

It is interesting to note that the approach to this issue of vegetation management in Boonah varies from the approach in the Toowoomba Shire for the same "problem" where Toowoomba clears the lower levels of foliage (i.e. lantana, large weeds and shrubs) under the large trees making the area "unappealing" to flying foxes, whereas Boonah has cleared all of the large gum trees and left the lower foliage.
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Boonah Bicentennial Park 2/10/14 showing recent vegetation removal

Large Gum Trees cut down at Boonah Bicentennial Park 2/10/14 during recent vegetation removal

Boonah Bicentennial Park 2/10/14 showing recent vegetation removal (a huge contrast to the image we found on the internet taken 9 years ago! see below)
Boonah Bicentennial Park 2004 - Photo thanks to Wikmapia.org http://wikimapia.org/11760770/Bicentennial-Park  One can only imagine how large the trees shown in this photo 9 years ago would have been at the time of their removal in 2014.

We took a few photos of some of the birds at the park, habituating the small wetland areas and then headed home, but left feeling rather disappointed about the current condition of this small area that once was very picturesque.

Dusky Moorhen at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

Golden-headed Cisticola at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

We spotted this cute little nest amongst the reeds  on the edges of the small lakes at Boonah Bientennial Park 02/10/14.  We wondered if it was the nest of the Golden Headed Cisticola we saw nearby?

Brown Honeyeater at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

Welcome Swallow at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14  

I must note how refreshing it was to see this plaque and tree planted (see below)  in the memory of Steve Irwin,  (by the Friends of John Denver) in this location that was once a nice little pocket of environmental habitat.

J & B

Memorial Tree and Plaque for Steve Irwin at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

Memorial Tree and Plaque for Steve Irwin at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14